The Cold War between the Steelers and the league office continues.
Two weeks ago the NFL smacked Vikings coach Brad Childress with a $35,000 fine due in part to his decision to disclose that the league privately apologized for incorrectly removing from the scoreboard a touchdown that tight end Visanthe Shiancoe had scored.
Now, someone has disclosed to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the fact that the league has informed the Steelers of two blown calls in Monday night’s game against the Bengals.
Specifically, the league advised the Steelers that a fourth-quarter roughing the passer penalty against defensive tackle Casey Hampton should not have been called because Hampton hit Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer in the thigh, not the knee. The league also told the Steelers that, on the very next play, a pass interference penalty should not have been called against cornerback Ike Taylor. The infraction, drawn by Bengals receiver Terrell Owens, gave Cincinnati a first down at the Pittsburgh one. Two plays later, Bengals running back Cedric Benson scored, cutting the Pittsburgh lead to 27-21.
A last-minute drive by the Bengals fizzled at the Pittsburgh 12; otherwise, the mistakes would have directly contributed to the outcome.
On the surface, the news should undermine the widely-held perception that the zebras secretly wear black and yellow stripes. Then again, the fact that the league admitted the blunders to the Steelers will reinforce the suspicions of those who suspect that the Rooneys carry the league office around in their back pockets.
We think that the disclosure, which undoubtedly came from the Steelers to their hometown newspaper, heightens current tensions between the franchise and 280 Park Avenue. Ever since linebacker James Harrison absorbed a $75,000 fine, the Steelers have been openly complaining about the league’s approach to hits against defenseless receivers. More recently, safety Troy Polamalu has spoken out regarding the Commissioner’s power and the league’s system for imposing and reviewing fines.
Now that the Steelers, by all appearances, have breached protocol and blabbed about the officiating errors, the league office will not be pleased.